Unrepentant former terrorist Bill Ayers was an invited dignitary at the University of Chicago’s International House last week, plugging his latest ode to himself in book form, reports The College Fix.
The book, “Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident,” describes — from his vantage point — his disappointment with America after his friendship with Barack Obama became a focus of controversy during the 2008 Democratic primary and subsequent general election.
At the University of Chicago event, Ayers said he was “amazed” to be “cast as some kind of public enemy” just because he had been a co-founder of the Weather Underground and a violent communist radical in the 1960s and 1970s.
Ayers, the son of a former CEO of Commonwealth Edison, condemned “eager campaign staffs of the right, the middle, and even the moderate left” as well as “opportunistic media” for bringing up his Weather Underground past.
Reading from an excerpt of his new book, Ayers also discussed his relationship with Obama, describing it as basically negligible.
“Bernadine and I had hosted the initial fundraiser for Obama and uncharacteristically donated a little money to his campaign,” Ayers said. “We lived a few blocks apart and sat on a couple nonprofit boards together. So what? Who could have predicted it would blow up like this?”
Bernadine is Bernadine Dohrn, another leader of the Weather Underground and Ayers’s wife.
The relationship between Ayers and Obama first became an issue in the 2008 election after television journalist George Stephanopoulos mentioned it. Later, Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists.”
Ayers said he basically decided to ignore allegations that he was a close chum of candidate Obama’s. His approach was: “turn away, no comment, no elaboration, no clarification, no response.”
He talked about the support he has received from Dohrn and their three grown children—Malik, Zayd and Chesa. He said much of his new book focuses on “teaching and parenting” and living in a way that “doesn’t make a mockery of your values.”
“Try to be good citizens,” Ayers said, according to The Fix. “Try to be moral people.”
When Ayers was a leader of the Weather Underground, the group conducted a series of bombings of banks and the United States Capitol, the Pentagon, and some police stations. He was a leader during the Days of Rage in 1969, which cost taxpayers in Chicago and the state of Illinois about $183,000. That’s over $1.13 million in today’s dollars.
Ayers was also a Weather Underground member in 1970 when three spectacularly incompetent colleagues of his died in a Greenwich Village townhouse explosion trying to make a nail bomb. The bomb was going to be used at a dance for noncommissioned officers and their dates on an army base in Fort Dix, N.J.
Dohrn accompanied Ayers at the University of Chicago book-promotion event, notes The Fix. He introduced her as his “partner in crime”—adding that he only meant it as a metaphor.
Dohrn suggested that “the academy is filled with people who’ve committed violence,” citing as examples the fact that Ann Coulter and generals who “tortured at Abu Ghraib” have spoken on college campuses.
“The academy does not have clean hands,” she said. “Let’s just agree.”
Unlike Coulter or any Abu Ghraib generals, Dohrn is currently a professor at Northwestern University School of Law. From 1984 to 1988, she worked at Sidley Austin, a prestigious Chicago law firm.
From 1970 to 1973, Dohrn was a permanent fixture on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list. In 1969, she threatened attacks on college graduation ceremonies across the country “where the big people will come as speakers.” Also in 1969, Dohrn expressed support for Charles Manson and his followers because “they killed those pigs.”